Since its creation, the site of the Garden of Innovations has changed vocation several times.
Originally a fruit garden
Oddly enough, for a garden devoted to innovations, it contains a number of trees dating from the late 1930s. What's more, they are all nut-bearing trees: butternuts, black walnuts and pecans. They are all reminders of this site's first role, as a fruit garden (nuts are fruit, after all!) created in 1938.
Later a trial garden
In the 1940s, the fruit garden was converted into a trial garden for new cultivars of annuals. Each year, new cultivars were tested for hardiness, disease resistance and appearance. The Botanical Garden’s archives contain extensive records listing the pros and cons of each variety.
...an annual garden
Then, in the mid-1980s, the trial garden took on a new identity, as an annual garden. Regulars dubbed it the "Joan of Arc" garden, for it had a statue of the Maid of Orleans. She lost her head – literally! – to vandals, unfortunately, just before the site was transformed into the Garden of Innovations in 1997.
…and a garden of innovations
Hundreds of new cultivars arrive on the market every year. The Botanical Garden’s horticulturists are always on the lookout for what’s “hot”. They carefully examine each year's catalogues and select some 300 cultivars, based on their availability, looks and performance. Then these annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs are showcased in the Garden of Innovations.
In 2014, a completely new design was created to break the classic symmetry of the rectangular beds. Since then, slight changes have been made to the design of this garden on a regular basis.
The Garden of Innovations is therefore continually renewed, both in terms of the plants it presents and the evolution of its layout.